Thursday, September 25, 2014

Signs to Live By ... and the rest of the story!

Original design for
"Señales para Vida"
One of three "signs for life"
on my street.
Update: As Paul Harvey always used to say: Here's the rest of the story.

After writing the post about the signs in my neighborhood (see below), I decided to try to find out the history behind them, even going so far as to try to find the municipal department that might be in charge of installing them. Mainly, however, I just asked people if they knew anything about them.

This where synchronicity steps in. After deciding I was not going to take Spanish classes while I'm here in San Cristóbal, I hit a rough patch in my self-study program and decided I needed guidance. So, I found Paco and took a very helpful class. I had put pictures of the signs on my iPad so I could talk to the people at the transportation department and, on a whim, I pulled it out at the end of class and asked Paco if he knew anything about the signs.

Paco says … (really!) … "Oh that's Ayax Moreno. He's my best friend and he lives right there by where you're staying." So, I'm trying to find the place on my way home but there aren't any addresses but I see two men in a yard and I ask them if they know Ayax … and, of course, one of them is Ayax.  

Ayax Moreno,
neighborhood leader
So, I just spent two hours listening to the stories of one man's community development project which he calls "Corridor Recreativo" ("Recreational Corridor"; the signs are only a small part of the project. 

Rancho San Nicolas
logo designed by
Ayax Moreno
The neighborhood (barrio) is Rancho San Nicolas and it dates back to the late 1700s. However, in current times, the neighborhood has many of the same problems that a lot of neighborhoods have … crime, drugs and alcohol, noise, and conflict. Ayax has lived here for 15 years and he wanted to build a better place to live. The signs are just one of his many projects to date, including changing the streets to prevent the reoccurring flooding, building a sidewalk and creating places for children to play and gathering spots for neighbors.

When he first started thinking about improving the neighborhood, Ayax came up with a list of problems which made him think of signs … "No" signs … no drinking … no trash … no loud noises … and so on. But, he wanted a different kind of message … not an aggressive, "preachy" one but maybe signs that would provide a positive thought and example. The signs have been installed for about two years and they haven't "cured" the problems but they do stimulate conversation and there is now a neighborhood committee thinking about other projects Ayax has in mind.

Turns out that he has six other signs in mind … all worth posting, which I will below; however, the sign that touched me most was just inside his front door:
The most important thing a father
can do for his children is to show
them his love for their mother.
The signs yet to come for Rancho San Nicolas …

Todos educamos para bien o para mal
(We educate all
for good or for bad)

El pensar es acción que genera el inicio de algo mejor
(Thinking is action that generates 
the start of something better )

La vida es bella si, así la hacemos 
(Life is beautiful
if we make it so)

La paz y la tranquilidad también es una necesidad
(Peace and quiet also
is a necessity)

El sano ambiente es responsabilidad de todos
(The healthy environment 
is everyone's responsibility)

La belleza y la alegría son cosas que podemos aportar
(Beauty and joy 
are things that can contribute) 

Posted 9/25/2014
Signs  fascinate me … whether they're vanity plates with a message or commercial ads that weave words and images into the sales pitch or murals with messages embedded in them. I've collected signs for years and now have a whole new world of signs and messages to observe.

Close to my casa, there is a series of three signposts that have enchanted me with their wisdom and placement. Each of them holds a bit of advice, front and back, but I have no idea how they came into being and why they happen to be in this place. Below each sign are six graphics-only signs.

Here's the series ... the captions below are actually shown on a horizontal sign like the one at the top of the page. However, as I was putting this together, I realized that the graphics-only images each related to one of the main messages. Hope you enjoy!

Un lugar limpio
Incluye nuestra palabras
(A clean place … 
includes our words)
La vida saludable
Es espejo de la salud interna
(The healthy life ... 
is the mirror of internal health)
El sano esparcimiento
es tranquilidad de la vecindad
(Healthy recreation … 
is tranquility of the neighborhood)

Disfrutar la naturaleza
es considerar a los demás
(To enjoy nature … 
is to consider others)
La alegre convivencia
nace del mutuo respeto
(The conviviality … 
born of mutual respect)

Tu actitud y ejemplo
nos ayuda ó nos destruye
(Your attitude and example … 
helps us or destroys us)